If someone were to follow your example, would they go to Heaven?
The question is not as far fetched as you might think. The fact of the matter is that we are always following or setting examples in the lives of other people. This is a good thing as long as the example is good.
Paul urged the Corinthians to “imitate me, as I imitate Christ” and to the Philippians he added “and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.” (Phil 3:17) It wasn’t just Paul’s life but the life of those who followed Paul’s example that the Philippians were to follow.
I know someone who as a young child would imitate the song leader at home. He would sing songs and keep time with his hand just like John did. “I’m John!” he would say. When it came time to go to bed however, he refused (or tried to) insisting that “John doesn’t go to bed, I’m John.” Well, he was right….John never went to bed early or late….he worked a graveyard shift and so this young boy wanted to imitate John’s song leading AND bedtime habits.
Young children are known for being impressionable but they are not the only ones so our example in our life should always be one we want others to follow.
David shows both a bad and a good example in the sin with Bathsheba. While it is true that he admitted his sin when confronted (and that is the good thing), his example of sin was so bad that God’s name was blasphemed among the nations.
2 Samuel 12:14 MKJV Only, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of Jehovah to blaspheme, this child born to you shall surely die.
It is not that the enemies of God used His name with profanity but rather that they would speak less of the God of Israel because David, the king of God’s people, had done such a horrible act. Because of that, they were less likely to honor God.
Peter urges Christians to leave the ways of the world behind. This leaving of the ways of the world would be so noticeable that the non believers would take note.
1 Peter 4:3-4 ESV For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. (4) With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you;
Earlier he had said:
1 Peter 2:12 ESV Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
And to the wives of non believers he says:
1 Peter 3:1-2 ESV Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, (2) when they see your respectful and pure conduct.
We can not be sure that if we live a good life before God and show the unbeliever (and believer alike) the proper way to serve God that they will follow our example and go to Heaven. However, we can be sure that if they do not see a good example, that they will not know the way.
So again, I ask the question: If someone followed your example, would they go to Heaven?
This week has been a week of thinking about thinking, striving to understand the need to control our thinking, what thoughts lead us from God and finally, how to control the thinking process.
I quoted this passage in yesterday’s blog. Today, I want to look at it a little more.
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. (Php 4:4-9)
Before discussing it though, this is not an appeal to “Just think positive thoughts and it will all be ok”, it is more along the line of the song from Jungle Book “You’ve got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative”. I am not naive enough to think that this will be an easy process. Simple (as I said yesterday), but not easy.
I think that if we apply this passage, it will help us control our thinking:
First, We will rejoice in the Lord! (shall I say it again? Sure, if Paul can, so can I!) Rejoice!
It is not easy to focus on things that get you down, cause you problems, or tempt you away from God if you are rejoicing in the Lord. This, to my mind, means that if we are properly thankful to God for the gift of salvation that He gave us, we will be rejoicing because of it. If we are truly thinking about the joys of going to Heaven, we will be anxiously looking for and waiting for our Lord to return. Even when we go through the inevitable trials of life, we will do as James said and “count it all joy” and agree with Paul that the difficulties of this life are not to be compared to the riches of the life to come. In other words, it is hard to be thinking about sinful, gossipy, angry thoughts if we are rejoicing in the Lord. There is only room for one thought at a time.
Second, let your gentleness be known to all men. (“reasonableness” NKJV). This deals with how you treat others. It is hard to be focusing on your self wants if you are being kind to others, especially those who are not Christians. Your light (which you should always let shine “let it shine, let it shine, let it shine”) will reflect to them that there is a God and in chapter two of this book, we are called lights: reflective like the moon. How do you know that the Sun is shining bright when it is night-time? Because the moon reflects the sun’s light. How do you know the Son is shining in this world of darkness? Because WE reflect His light!)
The Lord is at hand. No kid steals a cookie from the cookie jar with Mom in the same room. Remember the song “There’s an eye watching you” ? Well, there is!
In nothing be anxious. Still, there will be times that even with all of the intent of our hearts, we may still wind up being anxious or perhaps fearful and those are times to turn to God in prayer to remove the anxiety. Make those requests known! Even Jesus made a request just before going to the cross. However, we are to do so with thanksgiving and realize that everything we have is from Him, and that whatever path He leads us on, even should it lead to death, only takes us closer to being with Him.
With those steps, Paul says, the peace of God will guard our hearts and thoughts. If God is guarding them, then I would say they are in good hands. But Paul does go on and says that we should also THINK in a certain way. Those things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, of virtue or praiseworthy are the things on which we should meditate. Not the conspiracy emails, the gain of riches, the gossip at work, the latest games our friends are playing on FB or their status, and as for the TV shows….oh don’t me started on the many different TV show messages that run contrary to the heart of God and therefore, should run contrary to our heart as well!
What do you meditate on? David said the righteous man, meditates on God’s law (Psalms 1).
Then Paul says in different words but with the same thought “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ”. What better goal could we have than to attempt to bring our thoughts under control so that our actions, which proceed from those thoughts, will be godly and wholesome and God honoring.